Cato Institute Releases Governors Report Card
Fiscal policy report card measures performance in cutting spending and taxes
Governor Bob Taft of Ohio receives a D on the Cato Institute’s eighth biennial fiscal policy report card released today. He earns low marks for his final term for advancing one of the worst fiscal agendas of all the governors, including his supposed tax reform package, which would actually increase taxes by an estimated $2.3 billion. According to the study, Ohio taxpayers can rest easy knowing that Taft’s governorship and the “fiscal damage” he’s inflicted on them are coming to an end.
Republican Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri earns the grade of A, the highest score of the 46 governors reviewed, for cutting his state’s budget and restraining Medicaid spending. The next two highest scoring governors are Republicans Rick Perry of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee and John Lynch of New Hampshire, both of whom received grades of B, are the highest scoring Democratic governors.
Nine governors, however, receive an F: Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana; Michael Easley of North Carolina; Christine Gregoire of Washington; Kenny Guinn of Nevada; Mike Huckabee of Arkansas; Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware; Janet Napolitano of Arizona; Bob Riley of Alabama; and Brian Schweitzer of Montana.
Of the 25 governors running for reelection this year, 12 earn a grade of D or lower: John Baldacci of Maine; Rod Blagojevich of Illinois; Jim Douglas of Vermont; Jim Doyle of Wisconsin; Robert Ehrlich of Maryland; Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming; Ted Kulongoski of Oregon; Linda Lingle of Hawaii; Janet Napolitano of Arizona; Bob Riley of Alabama; Arnold Schwarzenegger of California; and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who topped the 2004 governors report card with an A, drops to a D this year due to an overall increase in his state’s budget. Governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Bill Owens of Colorado, George Pataki of New York and Bill Richardson of New Mexico also earn lower grades despite receiving accolades in previous years.
The “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2006,” by Cato director of budget studies Stephen Slivinski, emphasizes the importance of tax cuts and provides evidence showing that “states that reduce taxes improve their prospects for economic growth.”
The latest report card grades 46 governors on 23 objective measures, awarding the highest grades to those who have reined in spending and cut taxes. Governors from four states (Alaska, Idaho, New Jersey and Virginia) were excluded from the study either because they assumed office too recently or for technical reasons.
Other key findings of the report include:
Constitutional spending restraints and tax cuts are arguably the best solution for bloated budgets during boom years and for out-of-control deficits during lean years.
Flat taxes create fewer economic disincentive effects and make state revenue less volatile. Medicaid must be reformed to avoid rising healthcare costs from consuming state budgets.
“The lesson of the last 20 years is that governors can’t tax and spend their way to prosperity; they should stop trying,” writes Slivinski. The complete report contains detailed state-by-state data.
For the “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2006”, Click Here.